Effective branding and marketing start with who you are, says Kurt Kraisinger, and as he points out in this incisive diatribe on success, there are no short cuts to integrity.
By Kurt Kraisinger
“Integrity is the seed for achievement. It is the principle that never fails.” — Earl Nightingale
You can follow many paths in pursuit of effective marketing and branding. In today’s multi-faceted communication landscape, you’ll find volumes of resources on the technical specifics, the “how-to’s” of SEM, SEO or your social media presence, with just a few keystrokes. The possible channels you can use are vast.
Yet, I can’t help but think that no matter the media or sophisticated application thereof, it all starts with whether or not the message displays integrity. It’s presence or absence will always become apparent in ways you don’t always anticipate.
Integrity is something that you simply have or you don’t, although people can always grow and change, and you can cultivate it over time with focused effort and intention. It’s a way of being, the way we operate in all spheres of our lives:, the way we serve our customers, treat our employees, interact with colleagues and everyone else.
Integrity shows through in all aspects of our lives and, I believe, it is the most important ingredient to success. It is truly the principle that never fails.
LIARS & THEIVES
Unfortunately, there are those that don’t have a lick of integrity, and that too becomes obvious. Chalk it up to ignorance, laziness, dishonesty, or a tragic shortage of moral certitude, lacking integrity is no way to go through life.
Case in point, over the past few years, I’ve discovered multiple companies “borrowing” our images from our website to use in their marketing campaigns, misrepresenting our works as their own. I know many others who have experienced the same, and it’s always wrong. While these companies tout their high-end services and design, one has to wonder, if they lie about their portfolio, what else do they lie about?
It takes integrity, time and dedication to excellence to build a great portfolio. People who don’t possess those qualities don’t create great design because they’re always seeking the quickest path from A to Z. That thoughtless expediency is at direct odds with developing quality design, because doing so takes an investment and focus over the long haul. It is a lot of work!
The design process is challenging it is rarely a straight path but typically a meandering journey filled with unexpected challenges. It’s tough to master and it can be frustrating. There’s a reason so few of us do it.
GARDENS OF ACCOMPLISHMENT
That’s why an awe-inspiring portfolio doesn’t spring up overnight. It is nurtured and harvested from a series of projects that each present their own victories and hurdles. The same applies to positive client reviews. They are the product of long hours spent in client meetings, in phone conversations and problem-solving. Those all-important referrals so many of us rely on stem from a good rapport and most of all, positive results.
In other words, it is impossible to conjure success. It must be grown.
In order to have a brand worthy of branding, we need to put in time to establish amazing designs that populate a breath-taking portfolio. It commands a tremendous amount of wittingly plodded and energetic effort over the course of many years. But if you love what you do, you’re only investing in yourself and I dare say, your happiness.
Purely in terms of marketing, patience is a virtue. I believe only once these efforts are made can an individual really translate their integrity into the branding arena, meaning it only works if you truly have it in the first place. Remember, integrity crosses all spheres of life, so it’s important to market and brand yourself authentically.
Returning to my previous example, when you misrepresent someone else’s work as your own, or take countless other shortcuts, you’re really only devaluing your greatest asset, yourself. So don’t do it!
Do you have to wait ten years to build your portfolio before you can make a name for yourself? Of course not! You can always put energy into marketing and branding as long as what you’re projecting to the public is congruent with your actual skill level and experience. Truthful marketing and branding are worth your time to ensure potential clients can find you, even if your portfolio isn’t as impressive than you’d like it to be.
GROW WITH THE CHANGES
My marketing strategies have evolved over the years because I have evolved, as has our business. In many ways, it’s been a deliberate process. Over the years, I have run my own personal experiments testing new approaches and ideas. I’ve learned that marketing and branding is dependent upon what you’re trying to accomplish, who you’re trying to reach, trends and your budget.
Starting out, I didn’t even have photos. Our original website was mostly drawings of our designs because we didn’t have a portfolio of built work. We relied on those drawings, great customer service and word of mouth referrals to keep our company moving forward.
Every aspect of your business and branding relies on real work and integrity. And here’s the bottom line – while there are no shortcuts, when you do endeavor to cultivate your work with the seeds of integrity, your success with only grow!
Quoted above: Earl Nightingale (March 12, 1921 – March 25, 1989) was a prominent and beloved American radio speaker and author, dealing mostly with the subjects of human character development, motivation, and meaningful existence.
Kurt Kraisinger is co-founder of Tributary Revelations, a network of innovative industry leaders including architects, designers, and contractors, collaborating to create the world’s premier landscapes, luxury pools, and outdoor living spaces. He is also president of Lorax Design, a watershaping and landscape design firm located based in Overland Park, Kansas.